Thriller elements in literary novels. Literary ingredients in thrillers.

Saturday the 7th of November, de Vereniging van Schrijvers en Vertalers and het Genootschap van Nederlandstalige Misdaadauteurs organized an event where literary authors, crime authors and translators met to discuss various kinds of topics. In the afternoon session there was an interview with thriller writer Charles den Tex and literary author Nausicaa Marbe. The topic of the interview was about thriller elements in literary novels and literary ingredients in thrillers. In other words: what happens when the genres make use of each others ingredients?

Den Tex and Marbe were interviewed about their opinion on this matter in their own writing strategies. Both authors recently published a novel which crosses the border between genres. Together with his wife, Charles den Tex recently wrote the (historical) novel Het vergeten verhaal van een onwankelbare liefde in oorlogstijd. Marbe’s last novel (Smeergeld) has been published as a literary novel, but has a lot of thriller ingredients. Smeergeld is strongly plot driven; an element usually characteristic for thrillers. Literary critic Persis Bekkering stated in her review in De Volkskrant that Marbe’s novel actually can be read from several perspectives: the literary novel, the satire, the thriller and even the love story.

Over the past four years, we have been studying literary conventions in The Riddle project. For my own research I (Kim Jautze) focus on the characteristics of genres, in particular the literary thriller. During the interview my opinion was asked about how I would characterize the novels of the authors. Where exactly lies the boundary between thrillers and literary novels?

The question they asked is exactly what my dissertation is about. In my research I try to examine as many textual features as possible in order to draw a clearer picture what differentiates the genres. Next to the style of writing (for instance differences in grammatical structure or the amount of clichés), I examine the differences in themes and topics, the female versus male voice, the building of suspense and also the reception and perception of different kinds of readers. For more information about my research and its progress, please visit my research blog.

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